Pirates scorched by Tamworth
May 17th, 2023
Tamworth Phoenix 23 – East Kilbride Pirates 09
East Kilbride’s tough return to Premier Division continued with a disappointing loss at Tamworth. The Pirates travelled South for their second game in six days with a limited squad as a result of injuries and Saturday work commitments. A warm day and a hard playing surface would test that squad to it’s limits. Indeed, EK lost both starting QB Neil Baptie and his back-up Scott McDonald to injury during the game, finishing with Scott McKigen under centre.
The home side almost took the lead on their first play from scrimmage. In a move very reminiscent of Edinburgh’s opening TD just a week ago, a short Tamworth pass turned into a 63 run to the endzone. However, the Phoenix receiver decided to taunt the Pirates Defence on his way past, and the resulting flag negated the score. Unfortunately, the TD was merely delayed and three plays later a valid score came on the end of a 17-yard pass from James Horne to Henry Hodgkins. The Extra Point attempt was blocked to hold the score at 6-0 to Tamworth. Towards the end of the first quarter, East Kilbride got on the board, but had to settle for a 34-yard Field Goal by Scott McDonald to halve the deficit.
Phoenix had possession as the second period started, and a 9-play drive was crowned with a second passing TD. Horne this time finding Bryan Okai from 11 yards out. Again the PAT was blocked, but Tamworth now led by 12-3. The Pirates’ woes deepened when QB Baptie was forced out of the game after taking a knee to the base of his spine as he was on the ground. Scott McDonald took over, moving the ball into the Phoenix red zone before passing to Fraser McDonald for a 13-yard TD. The kicking troubles now affected EK as their PAT was also blocked. A good return on the resulting kick off saw Tamworth deep in Pirates’ territory, and they took advantage just before the break on a short 2-yard scoring pass by Horne to Jacob Fafo. Horne also ran in a 2PAT for a 20-9 lead.
The third quarter was scoreless, and in truth, fairly uneventful. In the final period, Tamworth put together a drive that looked bound for the Pirates’ endzone until a low snap and a QB Sack by Sean Dickie pushed them backwards. However, despite all the kicking problems earlier in the game, Anousheh Fulford added a 44-yard Field Goal, which, to the surprise of many watching, was adjudged to have gone over the bar despite being tipped at the line of scrimmage. It was however academic in terms of the result. Scott McDonald was then hurt, getting his pass away just as two large Tamworth players converged on him. To add insult to injury, his incomplete pass was ruled a fumble and it was recovered by the hosts. Pirates MVP was awarded to Safety Ryan Miller.
The Pirates will be grateful to now have a three week break. This will hopefully give recovery time for the injured players and allow others to heal their bumps and bruises before the return game against Tamworth on 4th June.
Game report by Bill Campbell
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